The Reality of What I Hear in My Head
Depression is a master manipulator. Regardless of what is being said or done around me, my depression has an uncanny knack for twisting and morphing everything into a dark pit of hopelessness and despair.
I talk a mean game. I’ve been told by some that I am the happiest depressed person they’ve ever met because I am always sweet, friendly and smiling, always reaching out to others to see how they are doing. What everyone doesn’t realize is that it is all a survival mechanism. I smile because it is easier than letting others see me cry. I reassure others that I am peachy because it’s easier than trying to talk about everything that feels wrong, some of which I cannot even pinpoint or put into words. For me, living with depression means bolting on that cheerful, smiling mask. Sometimes it’s the only way I can get through the day.
In my head, there is constant turmoil, constant chaos. No matter how many friends reach out here and there to check on me to see whether I am okay, my depression tells me that there is truly nobody there, no one who cares, nobody I can count on. Depression convinces me that I am all alone and that the only reason people are even asking is because they feel obligated to or feel guilty that they haven’t spoken to me for a while.
Depression tells me to be suspicious of everyone’s motives for saying they want to be there and never let anyone in too close because it will only make it hurt more when they leave. According to Depression, everyone is going to leave sooner or later anyway. It is hard to argue that point because everyone always has.
Depression tells me that I am a burden on everyone, that I have too much baggage, too much drama and that nobody needs that in their life. So I isolate to spare everyone from that burden and spare myself from eventual abandonment. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am alone.
Depression tells me that nothing I have done has ever been good enough, that all I ever do is mess everything up. Depression harps on my flaws, reminding me of every mistake I have made, every time I have let anyone down. Depression tells me that I am a failure. It asks me why I should even bother trying to do anything because I just mess everything up anyway. The constant badgering leaves me petrified of failing again, terrified of even trying. I find myself paralyzed, afraid that no matter what I do, it will be wrong.
Depression tells me that nothing will ever get better. No one will ever truly love me. Nothing I do will ever be good enough. Depression tells me I have failed everyone in my life – my children, my friends, my partners, even myself. Depression tells me I’m not smart enough, not pretty enough, not good enough, that everyone deserves better than to have me in their life. Depression tells me that I’m a waste of space, a waste of breath, that the world would be better off without me in it. Depression hones in on every single one of my insecurities and uses them as a weapon against me. Depression spews out a constant barrage of absolute negatives until it is all I can hear. It drowns out everything else until it is all I hear, all I know.
Though part of me knows deep down knows it is the depression talking and not reality, it is so hard not to listen, not to believe all it says. After all, depression has been my steady companion for as long as I can remember. It has been a part of my life longer than any family, any friend, any love interest. It is hard not to believe that one voice who has been there longer than anyone else.
When I talk about my depression, I describe it as a battle, a struggle, a fight because that is essentially what it is. Every single day, I am assaulted with a barrage of negativity and hopelessness. On good days, I am able to fight back, to tell myself that none of it is true and find a way to move forward and be positive. On bad days, I’m left feeling critically wounded and crippled, unable to even climb out of bed or face the day. Every single day it is a fight. Every single day, I wake in this battlefield, never expecting to ever win, just hoping to survive.
People who don’t understand depression assume it is just random bouts of sadness and cannot understand why someone suffering from depression cannot just get over it and move on. They cannot see this monster I carry with me, this beast that is constantly attacking me, wearing me down, stealing away all hope and dragging me down into the darkness. They cannot hear the steady barrage of attacks I face every day or see how wounded and broken it leaves me inside. More than anything, I wish others could see and hear the war that is being waged inside me so that they might understand how weary I am from a lifetime of fighting for my life.
Republished on The Mighty on 03/03/17.